§ Mr. Webb
To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Greenock and Inverclyde (David Cairns) of 20 May 2002,Official Report, column 32W, on the Pension Service, if he will list the areas in which a direct local service has been introduced since 1 April. 
§ Mr. McCartney
The local service is being introduced on a phased basis from 1 April 2002 and, on current planning assumptions, will be in place nationwide by October 2002. In the meantime we will continue to provide a full service to our customers as we do currently, for example home visits, caller services in DWP offices, local information/outreach work and the central claims lines. Our customers will continue to deal with their local social security office until the national service is in place.
At this early stage, we are undertaking preparatory work and are making good progress. Recruitment is well under way and a full training programme is also in place to ensure that our staff are equipped with the necessary tools to provide an improved and dedicated service to our customers.